Thursday, November 30, 2006

Corn and beans redux

So, I finished the corn and beans blocks today, and sewed together the last of them into "fours" . Here they are laid out on the bed in any old order; before I sew them any further together, I will probably fiddle with the layout a little bit - but will try not to get too picky about it all... I'm not sure whether I'm going to try to group the reds together or mix them alll in - probably best to try it each way and see what it looks like. But on the whole, I think it works.

[The top quilt on my bed (which is the best surface in my house for laying out blocks) is a trip around the world, with nine-patches in it, but the backing is a purple tone on tone fabric - I can't tell you how useful that backing has been in quilt design - it's almost a solid colour, so it makes a great surface for laying blocks out on. It can frequently be glimpsed behind various quilt pictures I take. ]

The other thing I worked on today is an upcoming (next year) scrappy swap - simply blocks made up of 4 squares by 4 squares (2.5 inch squares) - to yeild an 8 inch block. These are something I tend to make with small scraps as I sew other things, using them as enders and leaders. This is a pile of blocks made before, some of which are suitable for swapping (some are a little less precise than I like to swap out, but are fine for my own use). I'll add to these over the next few months until I have enough for the swap. The fun thing with a swap like this is getting everyone else's blocks in - so many different fabrics - and it's fun to spot fabrics you own yourself and to ooh and aah (or not, as the case may be!) over the ones you don't. This swap will be on the scrapquilting forum on delphi, and is still taking signups until mid-December, if anyone wants to play along...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Countdown to Christmas?

I didn't do any sewing today (instead I went up to town, shopped in Oxford Street and had a rather nice lunch with DH - what a hardship!) but I did dig out the advent calendars - I know it's a day early, but I needed to make sure I had all the bits and bobs. (I do, whew!)

As last year, Sarah doesn't have a "pocket" calendar (where you get a little gift each day), but Olivia still does (house rule is 8 years old, decided by me last year as I couldn't face the thought of making another advent calendar with pockets - and anyway, she's too old for it) and of course, Alex does, so those two are hanging upstairs, Olivia's in the hallway at the foot of the stairs to her room and Alex's on his door.
Sarah made a big cardboard tree last year (18 inches high or so) and we cut out shapes from old Christmas cards, so she'll have something to add to each morning (plus she has a chocolate one from Oxfam) and of course, I have my quilted one.

I made this two years ago (so this is its third outing) - I photographed it with all the slots full, but of course it's empty now and will have one picture added each day until Christmas day. The slots have little tabs in the corner, like old-fashioned photograph albums and you can put the pictures in in whatever order you like. I also have three more little pictures upstairs which need to be finished off - quilted and edged - so this year, there will be extras to choose from. The pictures are all about 4 inches square, finished, and are foundation paper pieced.

Can't remember where the pattern was from - will dig that info out tomorrow/later and see if there's a link to it - it's a very nice pattern, though I adapted it a bit. The three new pictures for this year are from another source, though. The intention (ha) is to add one or two each year until I either run out of ideas or get bored. I'd like to add a few English things (it was an American or maybe Canadian pattern) like a Christmas pudding and a Chrismas cracker, for instance, even if it means drawing the pattern up myself.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A picture may be worth 1000 words...

but without at least some of them attached, you might have no idea what the picture is about. I know I said no pictures before, but this is something I've done since - don't get too impressed, it's not sewn yet, just the pieces cut out waiting to be apppliqued down - I'm sure that part will take a bit of time, but I needed something to do while watching telly, and this was a good option.

No photos today...

but I still did some work. Mainly, I just repeated other stuff I've been doing recently - quilted a few more postcards and put together a few more corn and beans blocks. I decided everyone has seen so many photos of those things, any more would just be boring! But I did work for an hour and a bit, and would have done longer, if I hadn't had to spend ages wrapping up secret santa pressies and taking them to the post office. But at least that's done. And 6 postcards have been mailed off! Progress is being made... No sewing tomorrow, probably, as I am heading up to town to have lunch with my DH - and maybe do a little Christmas shopping at Selfridges...


Seems to be mostly what I did today - not that I had a huge amount of time for sewing, anyway, but the hour or so I did have, what I mainly did was edge some postcards. I now have six done and at least one more quilted but not edged. Getting there slowly but surely.

This evening watching telly I managed to tie in all the ends of the table runner for my secret santa and to finish the binding and the ends on the one for my friends. So tomorrow I guess I will package up all the various secret santa stuff (in addition to this, I have a "bought" secret santa to swap with, and a smaller group I belong to always does a swap as well, so I have stuff for that to send - also bought stuff, rather than made - we are realistic about our time in that group. Sometimes.) and post it off. Which is fine, as the date for posting is 1 December for the one group and I think the 7th or 8th for the other. Plenty of time to spare!

I also started cutting out bits of fusible vilene for the next month of the Japanese block of the month sampler - this one is Mt Fuji in the mist. It's block five of nine, and was only supposed to be finished in 2005 or so. But hey, I'm working on it, right?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Speedy Gonzales...

Wish I could show a picture of what I've mostly being doing in my quilting time today - I was mostly working on the Twisted Mystery I talked about the other day. After being inspired by Anne's website, I spent some time last night with paper and pencils and plotted out what I wanted to do - today I cut and sewed and hey presto! the top is finished. And looks really good - I'm very pleased with it. Then I decided that as I had a lot of bits leftover I'd piece the back, too, so that's done. Of course, it won't get quilted until after Christmas, but at least I've got a bit of a headstart on it...

The other thing I did was to attach binding to the two Christmas table runners, so that I can sew them down while watching telly. I need to post the one for my Secret Santa by the 1st of December, so I guess I should get a move on...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Believe it or not...

So, those of you who thought I would just leave the triangle stuck to the back of the postcard, I'm afraid you're wrong. But you still get half credit, because I had fully intended to do so, so you obviously know me well enough! The reason I didn't in the end is that I did a second postcard with a different colour thread and really liked it much better, so decided that I needed the darker thread on the green postcard, too. Two birds with one stone and all that. Although I was sorry I had changed the stitch length to something quite small to do that quilting...

As you can see, I have now done three of these to this stage - they just have to be trimmed and have the backing paper fused on and edge stitched. I like the way they are coming out - nice when a simple idea works. Maybe I'll even manage to get through the 35 of them I'm supposed to be doing!

The other thing I worked on today, I can't post pictures of, because it might spoil it for someone - I am taking part in the Twisted Mystery (2) on Quilt Shoppe Forum - I did the last one and it was fun (though my poor finished piece - the one for me, not the one I made - got lost over the ocean somewhere. Sigh). Each player sends a bunch of fabric to the hostess, who then passes them back out to the other players - you don't know whose you have or who has yours. You then make a quilt and send it back (not a huge quilt, obviously - there are size guidelines). I got my new fabric the other day and it's been sitting around for a few days, waiting to inspire me - not that there's any rush, as it's not due until well into the new year. But anyway, I was looking at Anne's blog and got inspired by her colour block quilts. So I've been plotting and planning and will probably start cutting soon. Just can't resist. But I can't put up a photo because I know there are some ladies on that forum who at least occasionally read my blog, and it might be their stuff - don't want to ruin the surprise! If you are desperately interested in the fabrics I received, I can email you a URL to have a look, but I'm not going public. I will, however, talk about it in general terms!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quilter's dilemma

Can you identify this photo? Probably not, but don't worry, I'll tell you what it is. It's the back of a postcard - more specifically, it's the back of a postcard with a triangle from my corn and beans blocks quilted to it. This is what happens when you aren't very careful about clearning your workspace of one project before working on something else. If one of (for instance) your light coloured triangles happens to stick to the back of the postcard you are quilting, what might happen, would be that you quilted it all together... So now, the dilemma (which, to a lazy quilter like me isn't much of a dilemma at all) is whether to unpick the quilting to free the poor triangle (NOT) or whether to look for another neutral not too different from this one to take the place of this triangle in the corn and beans block. I'll leave you to guess which option I choose!

Here's a photo of the front of the postcard - that's what I worked on today, the next set of postcards for swapping - this one is a larger set, because I am combining three different swaps on different groups - one on my postcard group, one on my dyeing group and one on an art quilt forum (I think I'm making 35 total, so I wanted something effective, but simple). The theme is Winter Solstice, and this is a Native American Solstice Symbol. The centre of the symbol is stamped using a stamp cut from a potato, in various different colours of archival ink (the heat set kind), on different colours of hand-dyed fabric backgrounds. The outer star of the symbol is quilted on - so far, although I have done all the stamping, I have only quilted one, so I haven't decided yet which thread colour works best. I wanted something subtle, but I think this pastel variegated thread may be TOO subtle. I might use it to finish the edges of the card, though.

Here are some pics of the work in progress - on my dining room table, the various stamping and cutting materials, and the potato stamp itself. I really like potato stamps - the disadvantage is that you can't really save them, but the nice thing is that if you mess up the cutting part, it doesn't really matter. Maybe someday I'll progress to cutting my own stamps from rubber, etc, but I think I'd be too nervous and make lots of mistakes. With a stamp like this, which I would probably never use again, I think a potato is just fine...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quilting despite everything...

[Everything in this instance, being a broken toilet - or more precisely, a broken part of the toilet that allows it to be flushed via the pullchain. Luckily, the toilet itself works fine, though at the moment, the only way to flush it is to reach inside the cistern and pull the plug up. Which in itself is not that big a deal, if only the cistern weren't mounted at nearly ceiling level... I thought I might have to spend lots of time dealing with it, but luckily, my friend Mike (Nina's dad from school) took it all in hand and is sorting it out. So I was able to quilt after all.]

So, here are the quilted table runners. Or rather, half of each of the two of them - I couldn't get a photo of the full length of them easily. I did continuous curves in the cream coloured squares, a snowflake (left) in the gold, and a loop meander with a few stars and holly leaves thrown in, in the rest of it. Now I have to trim and bind, and hey presto! Turned out well, and quite a quick project. I had to photograph the snowflake with the flash off, as the gold semi-metallic fabric does not respond to flash too well. Still, I think it shows fairly well - this is a single snowflake from a roll panto. Quite effective.

As it happens, the quilting went quickly enough on the runners that I even had time to do a bit of piecing - so back to the corn and beans blocks. I have six fours finished, but quite a few more nearly done, so it's really starting to show the secondary patterns when I lay them out. I'm having fun with this one, and I know a lot of you are enjoying seeing it, as I'm getting good comments on it!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dye anther day...

OK, it was the same day's worth of dyeing, just a few more photos. This is the shirt that Alex made - he squirted all the dye on himself - the shirt was pre-soaked in soda ash solution then laid in a washing up basin, a little scrunched up, but only a little. He squeezed on the three primary colours, carefully, overlapping in places and not in others. I think it came out really well, personally. My own shirt is a similar, but paler - and I only used a few colours. Olivia tried to draw a design on hers, which didn't work really well, but I still like the result...
By the way - thanks to all who have commented on my fabrics from yesterday - with me being on blogger beta, a lot of those comments don't show email addresses, so if I haven't responded, it's not that I'm ignoring you.

Happy birthday dear me...

Lookie what I got for my birthday! This is a kit to make the wallhanging in the picture - it's called Jacobean Pomegranate Quilt - and I adore the fabrics with it, especially the red pomegranate print (at the bottom of the stack). It's a bit different from many of the things I make but I'm looking forward to starting it in a few weeks time, when I've cleared the current and required projects. I also got some other presents, most of them not quilting related, though I did get a magnetic pincushion, which is something I've wanted for a while. Perfect presents - you'd think I'd picked them myself - oh wait, hang on, I picked them myself - that must be it! :)

Didn't do any sewing yesterday, but did get to the promised dyeing session - I did three colour wheels, each with a different additive (one black, one grey, one brown) - this is for a project with my dyeing group to look at shades and tones and how additives affect colour - we did the colour wheels just plain, and then did them with a tsp of whatever added colour added in each step. The colours are really lovely - very rich and deep; I'll be adding a little grey or black to many of my colours from now on. The photo is a little lighter than the fabrics are in reality, but I think you can still see how rich and deep the colours are. I wish I could keep them, but I have to cut them up into swatches to share with the group - each member of the group has done a different colour wheel, with different reds, yellows & blues and in many cases added different blacks or greys to one another, so we will have lots of different variations on this theme - these swaps are really useful for exploring colours and how they work together (or don't work, in some cases). I also dyed some other pieces - a large twisted piece, a shirt, some knickers, and Olivia and Alex each did a shirt - these are still drying, so I'll photograph them later - they've all come out well - it was a fun day, even with Alex "helping".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Backing squares

Only a little sewing time today - most of the day was taken up with running errands and taking Olivia and Alex to the Museum of London to look at their display on the Great Fire of London. And what I did was dutiful, though not very interesting - I trimmed the table runners I did yesterday, and then pieced together ten inch squares of miscellaneous Christmas fabrics to use as backing fabric for the runners. I think it will look nice, actually. Tomorrow, I am hoping to have a dyeing day - it's my birthday, so I should be able to do a lot of dyeing, even if it is a weekend, which means the kids will be around. Olivia can help a bit, and Geoff can perhaps take Alex away to the playground during the messiest bits. Watch this space :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

We wish you a speedy Christmas...

Decided today that it was about time to make a present for my BQL Secret Santa - it's supposed to be in the post by 1 December. What I did was to make two table runners, using the book French Braid Quilts - made one for the Secret Santa, one to keep. Later I will trim the edges to give a straight line, but I won't put setting triangles at the ends, I'll keep them pointed and bind all around. Next week I'll quilt them both up quickly - Lana has a nice Christmas pantograph pattern called Tannenbaum, which is a kind of free-flowing Christmas tree, which will really suit them. This runner was very quick to make, and very satisfying!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rainy Day Postcards, numbers 1 through 7

The seven postcards for the Rainy Days swap with my postcard group - all are quilted now, and have the backs ironed on, but I need to finish the edges - two are done or nearly done, but I need to do the others - still plenty of time, as they are to arrive by the end of November, and all are within the UK, so even if I send them by cheap 2nd class stamp I'll get them out well within the deadline. I'm pleased with them - they came out more or less as I imagined. Now to get on with the next postcard swap (Winter Solstice) which I have 7 of to do for this group, but which I'll do more of for some other groups I'm in. I know what I'm doing in principle, but I haven't actually tried it yet, so I may have to have a radical re-think at some point! Oh well, it'll all come together in the end.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Birthday Shooting Stars

The blocks for this quilt top came from a birthday block swap (you choose what type of block you want to receive in your month; in the other months you make the other participants' choices of blocks) which I did last year on Quilt Shoppe Forum - the hostess actually did a very good job matching up actual birthdays to official swap birthdays, and I got all my blocks (I had chosen bright or jewel toned stars, can't remember which, on black backgrounds - any size) in November. Can't believe it's been a year already - anyone know where that time goes, and how to get it back?

Anyway, I was looking for something smallish (it's 51 inches square) to quilt today, as I had a longarm day, and this seemed the perfect thing - good size, and thematically appropriate, too. The quilting is a very simple pantograph (i.e. all over pattern) called shooting stars, which again, seemed appropriate. And I love it in variegated thread on a black background. I also have a photo of the quilting close-up and one of the back, which is a shibori piece I dyed a while back, which was just the size I needed. Serendipity! At some point in the not-too-distant future, I will bind it, most likely in black.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Quilting related shopping...

Although I did do a little sewing this morning, most of my quilting time today (not that I have a set amount of quilting time per day or anything - I wish!) was spent visiting with my friend Brenda, who has a little quilt shop in her house in Wimbledon. She used to have a quilt shop with another lady, but retired a while ago, and now takes her stuff to a few local groups, has customers who come to see her, does mail order and some small local shows. I have a sort of subscription to QNM through her - she lets me know when each new issue arrives and once a month (or so) I go up to visit her, get my magazines, check out any interesting new books she might have, and buy fabric if I need something specific for a swap, etc. She doesn't have a huge stock, but often she'll have something appropriate for a swap if my stash is low in that area. And she's only 15 minutes from me, rather than half an hour or more, for any other quilt shops. And I can park in her driveway, which makes life easy. Anyway, today I didn't buy any fabric, just some magazines and a book about using up bits and pieces, which had some fun ideas in it. I do enjoy reading quilting books, even if I don't make anything from them. We'll see whether I actually ever use this one, or whether I just read it...

The little bit of sewing I did do this morning (less than an hour) was to make a few more corn and beans blocks, and to sew some of the finished ones together into groups of four - I am trying not to be too controlling with these blocks, so rather than wait until all the little blocks are finished and then lay the whole thing out and try to balance it, I am going to join them all into fours as I go along. THEN I will lay them out and work on balance - I think that will be a lot easier in the end, and I need to stress less about these things! They look good so far, I think, but I'm eager to get another two at least, so I can check out the way the pale triangles come together to make squares, too.

A side note: I finally went ahead and changed over to blogger beta last night, and I will say, one thing I really like about it is the way photos are handled when you are creating a post - no more guessing just which photo is which or where they will appear. I'm less thrilled by the fact that you tend to get more anonymous comments, but presumably as other bloggers move over, that will resolve itself. We'll see how the beta defeats or redeems itself as I go on - I've heard mixed opinions so far.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Second helpings of corn and beans

Nothing much exciting today, except inasmuch as getting any work done at all is exciting in its own way. Had just under an hour to work, and managed to get 9 of these blocks done (they were all part way done already, due to the slightly odd style I work in...). I had several nice comments yesterday about the blocks, particularly the colours, and I am very pleased with the colours - perhaps the colours are what drew me to the project right now - it feels right for this time of year.

Thanks to all of you who read and comment on my blog - where possible I usually respond to comments, but of course, those left annonymously, it's not always possible - but I love having comments nonetheless, so thanks!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Corn and beans...

No, not dinner (which was actually roast pork, roast potatoes & beetroot and some Swiss chard from last night - and gravy, of course) but a project that has been knocking around for who knows how long - cut out and in little baggies, but waiting for a day when I felt like dealing with lots of little triangles. Who knew today would be that day? I know, they all need trimming, but that's something to do later, in front of the telly - so at the moment, we can just ignore all the little triangley bits sticking off the sides... And there are lots more to come, of course. I'm not sure, but it looks like there are no two combinations the same and a lot of blocks - 60 or so, maybe?

And I managed to finally sew together the first two rows on the nesting robin. Tada. Oh, and I hemmed a pair of Brownie trousers, but I shall resist posting a picture of them, unless specifically requested...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Foiled, and foiled again

Did some work today on pending projects - finished up the flying geese for that swap, so the last of them can go in the post next week. I have quite a few triples now - some from the other members of the swap, and some from my own fabric. Eventually, I shall lay them out in triplets, with narrow borders down the side in a solid colour, to make them into squares, and then set them in alternating orientations (I know, hard to get a mental picture - perhaps when I have time, I will do a diagram - I know just what I mean!)

I also finished off my baby shower swap project - quilted the two pieces of fabric together using the a multicoloured metallic thread in top and bottom (worked better than I'd feared - you never know with metallics). Then later on, Olivia and I played with the foils - she added some to an already glittery piece of gold lame' - and I foiled both sides of my double quiltlet - one using the provided double-sided sticky tape and the other using glue. I like the glue better as you have more freedom of shape, but it's a little hard to control, and of course you have to wait for it to dry - patience not being my strongest suit, I was glad to have some double sided tape to mess with to start with. The whole process can be seen here, if you care.

And finally, I did some preparation work for a postcard swap with the theme of Rainy Days - took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do for that one - the temptation being to do something which just looks grey and rainy - but although that could be satisfying in its own way (and indeed, I have already received one very nice card done in that sort of manner), I decided in the end to approach it in a more roundabout fashion - and pursue the theme of rainbows, in a kind of abstract way. I went with a strip in rainbow colours (none of which photographed very well - hard to get good colours sometimes on digital pictures - I really must learn how to get the most out of my camera as I'm sure you can adjust the settings to make allowances for these things) set in a dark blue background - then the "rain" will go diagonally across the cards (only one has the "rain" done so far) - using the same multicoloured metallic. Maybe not traditionally rainy, but I like the effect...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flying geese day

Meant to blog last night, but got distracted cleaning up the computer and had switched it off to go to bed before I remembered I hadn't blogged... Anyway, in the end, I didn't join up the two bits of the row robin (though I did cut a black strip with the intention of doing so) as I decided to make some flying geese for a swap, instead. These are a few finished ones; there are quite a few more still in progress. It's a scrappy swap, so I won't make more than 6 or 7 the same, and I'm trying to keep 3 of each kind I make, for myself - as usual, this means I need to make far more than the swap requires, but for the layout I have in mind (eventually), that will work much better...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nesting Row Robin, row 2

This is the second row (first instruction) for the nesting row robin (did one block yesterday). After finishing the row, I played around with EQ5 for a while and decided that the first row and this row need a narrow solid black row between them, so that will be added later, maybe tomorrow (though perhaps not as I have to run out to the place that sells Brownie uniforms, and who knows how long that will take). Still, progress is being made, and I will be ready for the next instruction on the 15th - now I just have to decide what it will be, as I've been chosen to nominate the instruction... Not sure what yet, but I won't pick a specific block, like this one - I'll go with something more able to be loosely interpreted.

As usual, it's interesting how the camera interprets colour - in this photo, the one red batik with white swirls looks much more white than it does in reality. It's probably a little unbalanced, but the white really stands out in this photo, while it doesn't so much in person.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A sewing day, at last

Or at least, a little bit of sewing amidst a day full of generally organising stuff - starting with a bit of a clear up in my sewing room, which it needed. Once that was done, I could start work a little bit on a few things that need doing. I started the first row on my second Nesting Robin (or rather, the second row, as the first one in the starting row) - this is the one where I'm doing each row in a single colour with black backgrounds - this is the block chosen for the row. It's a 10 inch block, so I am doing 6, each in a different red. I haven't yet decided if I will put a black spacer between the rows or not and whether I will attach the rows as I make them or wait until they are all done - I think I may wait and see how they balance, but you never know.

I also managed to make a start on the Baby shower swap for my surface embellishment group - this was the one where we sent each other things which we then had to use to make something. I received two pieces of fabric and some foils, so today I have sewed the fabrics together, then cut them apart and so on, until I was happy with it. I think I am next going to quilt it together into a two sided mini-quilt (it's 8.5" x 6.5" at the moment, I think) and then start working with the foils. So far, so good.